Chessy, officially named Princessa, was born royalty in a family of Princes and Princesses. Her siblings were halter and performance horses with numerous championships at the Regional, National, and Canadian National Championship shows. Chessy was different. She had a splint on her left front leg and a slight club foot on her right. The only thing especially pretty about her was her large, expressive eyes. Her head looked plain when compared to her siblings. Chessy was the ugly duckling in the barn. She was born bay but would become gray as she aged. She had a delightful disposition and was easy to manage. It was her sweetness and gentleness that wormed her way into Jim’s heart.
As a yearling, she was dirt brown. Jim managed to keep her club foot corrected with good farrier work. It didn’t present a problem for her as long as the farrier worked with her frequently. Jim knew Chessy was never going to be the champion Arabian her siblings were. At the same time, he felt strongly she would make a beautiful companion horse for someone to ride down the trail when she got older. She was, after all, bred to be royalty even if she was the dumpy little sister of the group.
Jim sent her off to a close friend and trainer late in her third year. He drove her across state lines for basic saddle training to get her ready for a new life away from the show barn. Chessy made the relocation without a hitch and made remarkable progress in her training under saddle. She did so well; the trainer decided to try jumping her. He noticed Chessy spent time watching other horses doing that with interest. She did well up to 2.5 foot jumps over an entire course. It was while she was jumping the course she caught the eye of Laura.
Laura was a young woman who owned one of Chessy’s sisters. Her older sister was a multi-champion mare and Laura’s “heart horse.” She thought Chessy might expand her horizons with two jumpers in different divisions. She negotiated with Jim and bought Chessy for herself. She took her to jumping competitions in Canada and did very well on her in the Junior classes while she won the Open Classes on Chessy’s full sister. Kayla noticed Chessy at one competition and told Laura she was interested in the mare if she ever became available. Soon Chessy graduated from the Junior division, and Laura found she couldn’t jump two horses at the same time. Laura called Kayla and made arrangements for her to come get Chessy. While Chessy never had the ideal good looks of her sisters and brothers, she seemed to catch people off guard with her sweet and willing disposition every time.
Kayla was a young woman with an ambition to become a dental hygienist. Two years after she bought Chessy from Laura, she had to go off to school and couldn’t take Chessy with her. She loved Chessy and wanted her to have a good home. She thought she found one with a family with children who rode horses. Kayla visited the farm, talked with the family, and observed their other horses. It appeared to be an ideal situation for Chessy, so Kayla sold them the horse and left for school.
That situation didn’t work out well for Chessy at all. The family decided she was “unrideable” after they neglected to care for her feet. They put her out in a pasture with other horses, wearing a halter too tight for her. Chessy always had a passive attitude. That didn’t help her in a herd situation. The other horses in the field took advantage, leaving her with little to eat and scrapes and scuffs on her body from being chased off the feed. The halter wore hair off her face and was nearly tight enough to embed itself in her skin. They continued to neglect her feet. She went lame on her right foot. The family finally decided she was utterly worthless and put her in a low-end auction that provided horses for the horsemeat market.
Friends of Kayla found out Chessy was at an auction for sale and called Kayla. Kayla panicked and called Laura. Laura called Jim. Jim sent Kayla the money, and Kayla bought Chessy at the auction. Chessy was rushed back to Laura’s barn, where the rehab started. They had her feet attended to, the vet out to go over her top to bottom, and they began to feed her to help her regain the weight she lost. They send Jim photos and videos of Chessy. Jim was heartbroken. Chessy was in miserable shape. She had lost a lot of weight. Her face showed where the halter had been when Kayla took it off her. Jim came and got Chessy in a few weeks and took her back home with him. Jim worked with his farrier to get her feet back in condition. The lameness issue slowly disappeared with proper care. She gained weight and her coat smoothed out. Her cheerfulness returned. The old attachment between Chessy and Jim rekindled into a deep love and affection. Chessy showed Jim at every turn how grateful she was to be back home again.
Jim took a critical look at Chessy as her condition improved. The dirty brown baby was now a silver-grey mare. Her face dried out with age changing her once “plain Jane” look. She didn’t have the exotic look of her siblings. Her’s was more an understated Arabian elegance. Her facial features showed off the classic elements of a pure Arabian horse. Her eyes and her demeanor are that of a benevolent monarch. She retained her sweet disposition and her affection for Jim. She would do anythinghe asked of her.
Once her weight normalized, and her lameness disappeared, she found a new job. Chessy became the go-to horse for kid rides. She’s been the mount of countless children as they learned to ride. She’s as good with them as she is for Jim and forgiving of their mistakes as they learn. Chessy knows the difference between a small child on her back and an adult who knows how to ride. With a child, she walks like she’s stepping on glass. She’s very careful of her charges. She is also very aware of where her own feet are in relation to where the children are, so she doesn’t knock them over or step on their toes. She takes treats from their hands carefully. She truly loves the little ones.
Jim says Chessy has found her final home. She will remain with him until she crosses over Rainbow Bridge. He loves her dearly and knows she also loves him. The ugly-duckling-turned-swan is extraordinary to him in every way.
Victoria Hardesty and Nancy Perez write as a team on a series of books about Arabian Horses.
You can see their books at Authormasterminds.com/victoria-hardesty-and-nancy-perez
Author of Action & Adventure with Arabian Horses
Charter Member of Authormasterminds